A cold war documentary thriller about a sailor’s desperate leap from a Soviet ship for freedom onto a US coast guard ship resulting in one of the biggest political muddles of the period.
In the Cold War years of the 1970s, an American patrol boat meets a Soviet ship off the east coast of the USA for talks about fishing rights in the Atlantic. While the Russian commanders are aboard the US Coast Guard vessel where the talks are being held, Simas Kudirka, a Lithuanian sailor jumps across the ten feet of icy water separating the boats. Crash-landing on the deck of the American ship, he desperately begs for asylum.
Though they try, the Americans ultimately fail to provide him with protection. The Soviets capture the asylum seeker and return him to their vessel with very ‘heavy handed’ treatment. Kurdirka is then sentenced to a harsh Soviet labour camp for treason, only to be freed again when his mother intervenes. And, so begins a stranger-than-fiction story of imprisonment, discovery, fame, and freedom turning this ordinary man into a symbol for freedom-seeking refugees everywhere.
The story is brilliantly told and rich in surprises, and The Jump is surely one of this year’s unmissable non-fiction titles.
Davide Abbatescianni, Cineuropa.org